​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Abdul Muhammad (Erik Saunders)

"Bridge Through Time"

Audio Recording

 

Chancellor Bennett ("Chance Rapper")

"Windows"

Audio Recording

 

 

Comment by Charles Cronin

The Complaint alleges the defendant “sampled” a “substantial majority portion” of the plaintiff’s song. But “sampling” connotes copying and using a portion of an existing sound recording, not a musical work. While the Complaint states that the plaintiff owned a copyright in the complaining musical work, it says nothing about ownership of the sound recording of it, which the defendant may have sampled. The defendant’s Answer doesn’t clarify matters stating: “Defendants admit that Chanceller [sic] Bennett used a portion of a song entitled “Bridge Through Time” in his song “Windows.” Defendants deny knowingly using any portion of Plaintiff’s copyrighted song…”

 

The defendant’s song contains a repeating brief tinkly background motive that is also heard in the plaintiff’s song. It is not copyrightable musical expression and might only be protected as a portion of a copyrighted sound recording, which the plaintiff does not appear to own. In any case, copying of this little snippet of sound should be considered legally de minimis.

 

The Complaint makes sweeping claims of infringement (“substantial majority portion”) including the mysterious allegation of defendant’s unauthorized “public display” of the plaintiff’s song. But it provides not a word of evidence as to the purported musical similarities on which the claim is based. That’s the hard part – especially for lawyers not versed in copyright law or music.  Perhaps the plaintiff – apparently a practicing attorney– might be better off representing himself, or realizing there is no basis for this claim.

 

      

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Complaint (PDF)

Defendant's Answer to Complaint (PDF)